Goro Miyazaki has told a great story in this new one from Japan’s Stuidio Ghibli. Goro is the son of legendary animator and master storyteller Hayo Miyazaki, a large part of the force behind all time favourites like Totoro and Spirited Away.
Many people – myself included – have been so moved my Hayao’s films that we long to have more of the same, to recapture those simple, still moments when we fell in love with them.
I guess that’s how we live much of our lives, chasing the past. It’s also how we miss the present moment and it’s wonder and potential. Even Goro has said that he just wants to make films like his father!
Goro’s new film, the second he has directed for Ghibli, does not have exactly the same feeling as many of the Ghibli films his father directed or wrote. But would setting out to recapture the feeling or pace of another film be a good start for a new one?
No. Stories must be told in their own way, at their own pace, in their own language.
Compared to the two most similar Ghibli films of the past, Only Yesterday and Whispers of the Heart, Poppy Hill feels faster and plainer. I liked the tale of two young students with unknowingly intertwined pasts as meet through a campaign to preserve a historic clubhouse. I won’t say much more to give away the story, but it’s brought to life in a beautifully detailed rendition of post-war Japan.
As much as the story and the setting, I love the subjects – responsible teenageers, older than their years, struggling with more responsibility than their peers. It’s a romantic notion as it seems to skip over the teenage reality most of us knew or know, but I love the almost heavenly, noble qualities the writer has imbued the characters with. It’s inspirational, really.
I did find myself wishing the film was paced slower, to achieve that zen-like feeling that allowed me to enter the worlds of some other Ghibli animations. But then, this isn’t another Ghibli film, this is From up on Poppy Hill, and it was quite nice just how it is. It has a very down to earth feeling.
Don’t not see it because you think it won’t stack up against Ghibli’s other films. Try not to hope for it to recapture classic Ghibli. It will and it won’t. If you’re waiting for it to fulfil specific expectations, you’ll miss the magic that’s all of its own.
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